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Padmounted transformers

Gardening around padmounted transformers

Padmounted transformers supply electrical energy to homes without above-ground poles and lines. However, they pose a landscaping and gardening challenge. How do you make an aesthetically pleasing garden without jeopardizing safe access to the transformer and, how do you safely dig around the transformer? The following information is designed to provide guidelines and ideas to safely landscape and do garden work around padmounted transformers.

What is a Padmounted Transformer?

Padmounted transformers change high voltage electricity to lower voltages that are used by appliances and lighting in your household. Padmounted transformers are usually green metal boxes, which are located at ground level next to roads and sidewalks. Circuits and wires for these transformers are placed underground. Padmounted transformers are often found on residential lawns and in gardens.

Padmounted transformers contain high voltage electrical equipment. Caution must be used when planting or landscaping near them, and children should never play on or near them. Locks are in place to ensure the doors and covers on transformers remain closed. If you notice a transformer is unlocked or the doors are open, please contact FortisBC, and keep yourself and anybody else back at least 10 meters (33 feet). There is an identification number on all transformers. Use this number when you call to identify the transformer.

Digging Around Padmounted Transformers

Because padmounted transformers are surrounded by underground cables, digging around them without care and attention could damage underground cables. This can lead to interruptions in electrical service and can cause a severe and potentially deadly electrical shock. There may also be buried ground wire surrounding the transformer at a distance of 0.3 metres to 1 metre (1 foot to 3.3 feet), and buried at a depth of about 0.3 metres. Like all power lines, the ground wire should not be moved or damaged. If you are considering doing any type of digging near a padmounted transformer, call BC One Call (1-800-474-6886) and FortisBC (1-866-436-7847) to find out where cables are located and to help you safely plan before digging.

You Can Help with Proper Planting

When there is an emergency, power outage, or maintenance required on the electrical system, technicians must able to readily access the transformer. Technicians need at least 2.5 metres (8 feet) of clearance in front of the transformer doors to ensure they can safely complete their work. It is also important to know the root characteristics or behavior of the plants you choose for your garden. There is a ground wire buried at a depth of about 0.3 metres (1 foot) and the roots of plants should not become tangled with, or otherwise obstruct this wire.


Before Planting:

  1. Call FortisBC (1-866-436-7847) and BC One Call (1-800-474-6886) before digging to get information about buried wires and cables.
  2. Draw a plan marking the location of plants (with no plants obstructing the doors).
  3. Note the height of the transformer so you can choose the right sized plants.
  4. Get advice from a nursery or garden specialist on which plants to use and how to plant them.